Day Two of the Cheltenham Festival starts with the longest race of the entire four days, a gruelling test over 4M which is ridden by amateur riders. This race is not only the longest race of the Festival but also the most historic having been run 140 times and being the race that was the cornerstone of the original Festival.
One of the idiosyncrasies of the meeting is that the longest race of the Festival is restricted to both equine and human novices. But one thing that can be said for the race is that it has proved a terrific guide to the big end of season marathon chases, such as the Irish National and the race which we all know and love as the Whitbread at Sandown, even though it has had numerous sponsors since.
Recent changes to the conditions of the race has to all intents and purposes ironed out some of the quirks that were involved in this race and basically what we are left with now is a decent novice chase run over 4 miles. It’s not the Cheltenham racing betting highlight of the year, but it’s certainly a fantastic race.
Despite those quirks it is still one of the best supported races at the Festival, once attracting a field of 37 runners (1948) but now there is a safety limit of 20, which is usually reached in most years. It is well known that certain trainers target certain races at the Festival and this is the one where you should always take a look at the Jonjo O’Neill representative – O’Neill did not have a runner in the race last year but previous to that he had won the race in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2007, often for his principal owner J P McManus, and that combination are worthy of special attention when it comes to finding the winner of the Festival’s longest race and anyone looking to bet on Cheltenham 2011 should bear this in mind.
The start to Day Two of the Festival is an historic and long one.